Belle Isle Moonshine

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Behind the Bar

BOO-hind the Bar: The Owl Bar // Baltimore

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
 The Owl Bar’s Bar Manager Joe Aldridge pours up some dark magic.   All photos by    Justin Tsucalas   .

The Owl Bar’s Bar Manager Joe Aldridge pours up some dark magic.

All photos by Justin Tsucalas.

The scariest things we typically encounter at bars are drunk, chatty old men and loud bachelorette parties. At The Owl Bar, located on the first floor the historic Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, things are a bit more paranormal than your average neighborhood haunt. Opening in the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood in 1903, The Belvedere has longstanding history as a playground for the rich and famous–including at least 10 U.S. presidents and countless celebrities.

It’s no surprise that with over a century as Baltimore’s premiere venue, The Belvedere has more than a few ghost stories. When we’ve taken you Behind the Bar in the past, it’s to share the secrets of one of our favorite bartenders. In this special Halloween edition, we’re sharing the secrets of the bar itself–and this bar (and the hotel it inhabits) definitely has some secrets. Read on to hear two longstanding employees of the Belvedere Hotel and The Owl Bar share their firsthand otherworldly encounters in the historic building. We’re also sharing two of The Owl Bar’s new spooky cocktail recipes, courtesy of bar manager, Joe!

**If you’re in Baltimore, check out The Owl Bar’s Hollywood is Dead party on Saturday, October 27!


What’s your favorite Owl Bar/Belvedere Hotel ghost story?

Valerie (Belvedere Hotel employee): I have held many positions here at The Belvedere for the past 21 years, so I have many stories to tell. I was in the Grand Ballroom on the 12th floor getting set up for an event when I experienced the ballroom coming alive like it did in the movie The Shining. I could hear people starting to talk, and I could hear ice clinking in glasses as if drinks were being made. Then music started playing–but unlike the movie, I couldn't see any of it. I could only hear it.

One of my last big experiences was about two years ago when I was working on the 13th floor. I had gone down to the 12th floor to clean and lock up. I got off the elevator and heard the sound of women's high-heeled shoes walking on the wood floor. For some reason, I got a bad vibe from whoever’s spirit that was. I told others about it the next day. I said, “We usually have nice ghosts here, but that one last night? I don't think she was.” That night I was cleaning and locking up the 12th floor again. Before I came down, I texted my husband to ask what he wanted for dinner, so just before I was about to lock the doors I checked my phone to see if my husband texted me back. When I opened my phone, the letters were being pressed and a message came across my phone saying, “I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person.”

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Jackie (General Manager, Owl Bar): I’ve been locking the restaurant doors at the end of the night (early morning) for more than seven years now–so I’ve seen a lot! My first encounter with a ghost was my very first month as the restaurant manager. It was myself and our bar manager at the time, Jeff, as we were doing some last minute cleaning before locking up. The TVs and the music were both off as we were about to leave. I was walking out of the kitchen, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a bright light in the corner up on the ceiling by the television followed by a huge SLAM! Jeff had his back turned to me as he was counting out his drawer and didn’t budge. I was shocked at what I had seen and heard, but I was more shocked that Jeff didn’t react to this god-awful noise. The hit was so hard that I swore it hit the floor and shattered it. The floor was in tact, the bright light I had spotted had disappeared, and Jeff was still counting his drawer as if nothing had happened. I was horrified and screamed for him to come from behind the bar. I explained what I had witnessed in detail. His response? “Sounds like you had your first ghost sighting here at The Belvedere.” Later on after we locked up, we reviewed the cameras, which show me crawling under the corner table to check the floors. I looked ridiculous!

What’s your favorite spooky room or floor in the Belvedere?

Jackie: The Grand Ballroom (12th floor). Rumor has it that a Baltimore woman in the 1920s caught her husband dancing with his mistress in the Grand Ballroom and shot him dead. His ghost, it is rumored, still haunts the ballrooms of the 12th floor, but it only bothers women. Once in a while, people who work up there swear that glasses fall to the floor and break with nobody nearby, or they put something down and a little while later it would be somewhere else.

Happy Halloween, y’all!


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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Blood Orange

  • ¾ oz. Sour Apple liqueur

  • ¾ oz. Melon liqueur

  • 4 oz. lemonade

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin over ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.

 
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Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee

  • ¾ oz. Jägermeister Manifest

  • 1 oz. Tyku Coconut Sake

  • ¾ oz. egg white

  • ¾ oz. coconut syrup

  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin over ice. Shake and strain out ice, then dry shake for 15 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.

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Recipes by Joe Aldridge,

Bar Manager


Craving more creepy cocktails?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to hear more about us?

Behind the Bar: Joshua Le // The HofGarden

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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Some venues just can’t be tied down to one concept. With three stories, a rooftop bar, a music venue, and a private event space, The HofGarden has room to cater to almost any crowd. Located in Richmond’s brewery-saturated Scott’s Addition neighborhood, The HofGarden is primarily a German-style biergarten–albeit one that serves some amazing pizza and stellar cocktails. The latter is due partially to bartender Joshua Le, an industry veteran who knows a thing or two about shaking a cocktail. We recently chatted with Joshua about his favorite guilty pleasure cocktail (hint: it’s frozen and fruity), his favorite places in Richmond, and his #1 way to annoy a bartender. Scroll down to read all about it, plus get the recipe for Sun-Kissed, a cocktail featured in our upcoming addition of The Moonshine Book.


First thing’s first, who are you?

I’m Joshua Le, bartender (and babysitter) at the The HofGarden. I’ve been at the Hof on and off for three years and back full-time since early 2018.

What first got you behind the bar?

I’m like a bar fly: the booze.


Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Focus on the customer and operating the bar you’re behind as efficiently as possible. The cocktails will come to you as you go.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

I never know the names of the drinks, and honestly, I don’t think the person making them for me ever knows the name either. I like trying something new and different, so I always have the latest cocktail they’ve been working on or their favorite.

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Favorite drink that you make?

I call it “The Equalizer”–gin, lemon, simple syrup, mint, and Peychaud’s. It’s light, refreshing, boozy, and it’s served in my favorite glass–the coupe.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Miami Vice. You can look, though. I don't mind.


If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Belle Isle, duh.

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

There's always something different going on here. We have a lot of space to work with, so we have live music, DJs, fashion shows, weddings, spoken word events, and, one time, an amateur wrestling match. So there’s always something to keep you on your toes.

What makes your bar unique?

The Hof has a unique culture that I've never seen in any bar I've worked at. This place is always growing, and they really support employee growth–if it's restaurant related or not. They really invest in the best interest of their staff.


Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Sticky Rice is and has been one of my favorite bars ever. Always a great crowd, and if I had my own joint, I would hire any one of their exceptional bar staff. Always polite, personable,  and quick.


What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

The craft cocktail scene in Richmond is growing right along with the city. Richmond has grown exponentially in the last five years, and people are taking note. I think we have more breweries than Starbucks, and new restaurants are constantly opening giving plenty of opportunities to those passionate about craft cocktails. It’s an exciting time to be here, and anybody serious about craft cocktails should consider Richmond as a great place to make a name for themselves.


Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

I don’t care if you’re a bartender, so don’t tell me.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

With [Belle Isle Key Account Manager] Ashley Grant. If she’s not available, I do enjoy a Belle Isle Cold Brew Negroni.


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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. vanilla bean-infused Belle Isle Black Label

  • 1 oz. pineapple juice

  • ½ oz. sunflower seed orgeat

  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice

  • 1 egg white


    Preparation:

    Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin over ice. Shake and strain out ice, then dry shake for 15 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with vanilla bean paste.

**Recipe by Bobby Kruger of The HofGarden.

All photos by Kate Magee.

Still thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Wanna know more about us?

Behind the Bar: Tony Hairston // Wong Gonzalez

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
BICS-BTB-WongGonzalez-16.jpg

Located in the hustle and bustle of downtown Richmond, Virginia, Wong Gonzalez is definitely one-of-a-kind in the River City. Not only is the space bright and beautiful, but it’s the only place in town you can find Mexinese food. Although it’s a newer addition to the prolific EAT Restaurant Partners group, Wong Gonzalez sets itself apart from the pack with a delicious Chinese-Mexican fusion menu, a killer Happy Hour, and a selfie-inducing bathroom. Thanks to Bar Manager Tony Hairston, the cocktail menu is just as unique. With drinks like Baby One More Time and Boujie-Vardier, the cocktail list at Wong Gonzalez is just as playful as the kitschy, Old Hollywood interior. We recently chatted with Tony about his favorite drinks, his bartender beginnings, and his amazing Belle Isle cocktail on draft (!!!). Read on to get that recipe, plus another one: the spicy, smoky Strut.


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…


I’m Anthony “Tony” Hairston, Bar Manager at Wong Gonzalez. I’ve been bartending at Wong Gonzalez for a little over two years, but in general for about six years.


What first got you behind the bar?

I was serving at the time, and one of my friends who was the bar manager just kept encouraging–as well as nagging–me to work behind the bar. One day I just said, “Fine! I’ll give it a try,” and that’s all she wrote.


Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Someone once told me when starting out bartending that a good thing to do is go to other bars. Check out how it’s run and learn from watching other bartenders’ techniques, such as how they stir a cocktail or shake a drink.


Favorite drink made by someone else?

I think maybe a Strawberry-Mint Mojito topped of with a little bit of Champagne.

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Favorite drink that you make?

Currently on our menu we have a Sorry Not Sorry cocktail (#SNS) that I think is pretty delicious. It’s made with peach vodka, blackberry-peach syrup, lemon, tea, and ginger beer. My second-favorite is our Saint Amy–jalapeño-infused tequila, elderflower, pineapple, lemon, and lime.


Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Tequila! It’s my go-to, as most people know.


If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Honestly, any of the Belle Isle Moonshine spirits. They always work well when creating cocktails!

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

What’s not to love about Wong? It’s beautiful inside. We have really good food. Our Happy Hour is pretty awesome, and we have it everyday we are open–including Saturday and Sunday! We are located in a great area, so we get a mixture of guests that come in, from business people getting off work trying to catch happy hour to a group of ladies having dinner before going to see a show at one of the venues nearby, to a late night pop of people coming in right after partying at a wedding reception. I do think the number one best thing about working at Wong is family. Not only is the staff some of the best people I have worked with and grow with, but EAT Restaurant Partners itself is probably one of the best companies to work for!

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What makes your bar unique?

I think the visual aspect of the bar does attract a lot of people. We also pride ourselves on having a great amount of different spirits–especially tequila, vodka, and bourbon! Our bar is a place where you can come by yourself and not have to worry, or meet up with a group and not feel pressured or rushed. And again, you can’t beat the Happy Hour!


Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I’ve been hanging out in the Fan and Carytown areas. Some places I like going are The Jasper, Weezie’s, Buddy’s Place, and Babe’s of Carytown, just to name a few.

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What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

I like the trend of how cocktails are being made today. I feel like more people and restaurants are becoming innovative with cocktails, which makes it exciting to try something new. When I first started, a “complicated” drink was a Long Island. Over the years, I have been able to learn and grow as a bartender, and explore new methods of creating cocktails. It’s fun to learn not only what’s in a cocktail, but the reason why it’s made a certain way.

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Wow, a loaded question! There are so many. I guess for guests: waving money around yelling “Yo, bartender!” while there are a plethora of other guests before you is not going to get you a drink any faster than the rest of them!


What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

I like the Belle Isle Black Label, Honey Habanero, or Ruby Red Grapefruit with some freshly squeezed lime and lemon juice and some simple syrup. Something very easy to make, yet refreshing.



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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit

  • ¾ oz. Aperol

  • 1 oz. fresh orange juice

  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice

  • ½ oz. Honey Syrup

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin over ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over ice.




**Featured on tap at Wong Gonzalez!


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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • ¾ oz. honey-ginger syrup

  • ½ oz. carrot juice

  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice

  • 3 dashes orange bitters

  • Spritz of mezcal

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin over ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over a big ice cube. Spritz with mezcal.




Recipes by Tony Hairston.

Photos by Joey Wharton.

Still thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Wanna know more about our story?

Behind the Bar: Bobby Jones // Wayward Smokehouse

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
Wayward-MoonshineBook-19.jpg

Walk down nearly any street in the bustling Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore and you’ll notice it’s lined with busy bars and restaurants. You’d be hard-pressed to leave this neighborhood hungry (or sober), creating some stiff competition for newer venues. Wayward Smokehouse, which opened its doors in 2016, separates itself from the pack by providing patrons with decadent, delicious Southern food (um, hello Pimento Crab Mac & Cheese) and simple-yet-solid cocktails. We chatted with General Manager Bobby Jones about getting his start in the business on a whim, his love for rum and bubbly pink wine, and his golden rule for bartenders and patrons alike. He’ll also share his recipes for two amazing Belle Isle cocktails, Stawbanero and Spiked Chocolate Milk! Read on for all of this, plus a peek at Bobby’s adorable pooch, Remy.


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I’m Bobby Jones, the General Manager at Wayward Smokehouse in Baltimore. I’ve been bartending for 10 years, and General Manager at Wayward for two and a half years.


What first got you behind the bar?

I was working as a fry cook during the day at my old job. The owner owned a cruise ship in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. About 15 minutes before I was getting off, he asked me what I was doing that night. I said “Nothing, why?” He handed me a $50 bill and said, “Go to Old Navy. Get yourself a polo and a pair of shorts. Go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a bartending book. Save the rest for tolls, parking, and gas.” The rest is history.


Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

You have two hands. Use them.


Favorite drink made by someone else?

Hinkle. Named after an Ocean City Legend. Bacardi Limón, iced tea, splash of cranberry, and sweetener.


Favorite drink that you make?

Captain’s Crush: Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, triple sec, fresh-squeezed OJ, splash of Sprite. It, surprisingly, tastes like a creamsicle without tasting like fake imitation vanilla.


Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Bubbly rosé. All day


If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Dark rum. With soda water and neutral mixers, it carries a whiskey taste. With juices and aromatics, it’s always refreshing and tropical. With ginger beer, it’s a favorite one-plus-one drink.


What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

I’ve worked both “front of the house” and “back of the house,” so I have a lot of war stories. But connecting the FOH and BOH together is always fun to me. I love talking to people about food, beers that go with the food, cocktails, and just connecting with people, in general.


What makes your bar unique?

We have a custom table that is made from reclaimed wood from around Baltimore. It has a custom concrete trough that we fill with ice so people can put their beers in. Above it is a light fixture that is made from an old railroad tie from the B&O Railroad Museum. It’s the first table when you walk in the building, so it’s always a “wow” factor.

 Sorry, no ‘shine for you, Remy.

Sorry, no ‘shine for you, Remy.



Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Thames Street Oyster House. It’s one of the only bars in the city that has Narragansett. ‘Gansett is one of the my favorite beers, and their raw bar is phenomenal.


What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

Baltimore is fickle. It’s referred to as “Small-timore” frequently, and everyone knows everyone. People are so set in their ways, whether it’s finding craft beer and cocktails or drinking Bud Light and Jack Daniels. So being somewhere in the middle is crucial.



Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Be nice. You don’t know how someone’s day has been. It goes for both sides of the bar.


What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Cold Brew Coffee White Russian is a guilty pleasure of mine.


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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • ¾ oz. lime juice

  • 1 oz. strawberry pureé

  • 1 egg white

  • Tajín rim

Preparation:

Rim glass with Tajín. Add all ingredients except egg white to a shaker tin over ice. Shake and strain in coupe glass. Dry shake egg white until frothy, then layer on cocktail.




Spiked Chocolate Milk

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee

  • 4 oz. house-made chocolate milk

  • topped with bourbon whipped cream**

Preparation:

Chill first two ingredients separately, then combine them in a mixing glass. Stir lightly, then pour into a highball glass. Top with a dollop of bourbon whipped cream.

**In a mixing bowl, hand-whip one cup of chilled heavy cream with one tablespoon of powdered sugar until fluffy peaks appear. Slowly add in one tablespoon of bourbon.

All photos by Joey Wharton.

Still thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to learn more about Belle Isle?

Behind the Bar: Sarah Prestridge // The Pine Food & Drink

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
180314_BelleIsleBook_ThePine_029.jpg

College town bars aren't usually well-known for their craft cocktails and inspired cuisine. Though located less than a mile from University of Georgia's campus, The Pine Food & Drink and its downstairs tavern The Root Basement Bar serve up more than your standard college fare. The Pine & The Root provide Athens residents (and students) with some of the most traditional, elevated Southern food in town. With Sarah Prestridge in charge of the bar, the cocktail menu is just as impressive. After nearly a decade tending bar, Sarah knows how to make an innovative, balanced cocktail that will impress anyone from 21 to 81. We chatted with Sarah to learn her secrets to creating the perfect cocktail, her #1 tip for bar guests, and the recipe for her bright, peppery Spiced Rose Coupe


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

My name is Sarah Prestridge, and I’m the bar manager at The Pine Food & Drink and The Root Basement Bar in Athens, Georgia. I’ve been bartending for nine years, three of which have been at my current position.

What first got you behind the bar?

I actually stumbled into the service industry. I spontaneously moved to the beach one summer without a plan or a job. When I got there, I applied to work at an oyster bar and I started working the very next day. I learned how to wait tables, bartend, and shuck oysters in the same summer!

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Connect with your customers, and remember your regulars.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

Jim Joy at Café Thirty-A in Seagrove Beach, Fl. makes the best Manhattan I have ever had.

Favorite drink that you make?

If I’m not creating my own recipes, I love making classic cocktails. They’re classic for a reason!

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

I’m a sucker for a fresh, made-from-scratch Piña Colada, but it wouldn’t be complete without a tiny umbrella.

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Lavender.

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

I love the atmosphere and the close-knit neighborhood feel. New customers almost always turn into regulars.  

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Normal Bar.

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?

I like that today’s culture is craft-focused. Cocktails are centered around fresh and fun ingredients that give you a sense of the bartender who made it.

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

For guests: Learn your bartender’s name and use it when trying to get their attention. Otherwise, choose a polite alternative. Never snap, whistle, or bang your glass on the bar.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

I like to drink Belle Isle neat or on the rocks. The natural flavors and subtle complexities really come through when you enjoy a spirit by itself. The subtle warmth and vegetal notes of Belle Isle Honey Habanero inspired me to bring in bright citrus and pink peppercorns to my cocktail.

 


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Ingredients:

● 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

● ¾ oz. lemon juice

● 1 oz. pink peppercorn simple syrup

● 2 dashes of lemon bitters

Preparation:

Put all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain, and garnish with ground pink peppercorns, a rose petal, and rose water spritz.

 

 

 

Still Thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Behind the Bar: Joyce Thaxton // Ocean 27

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
BICS-Ocean27-JoeyWharton-9.jpg

It's quite possible that Ocean 27 in Virginia Beach is the perfect beach bar. What makes the perfect beach bar, you ask? Here are the requirements: A) serious outdoor activities (cornhole, anyone?) B) simple, refreshing cocktails to help you beat the heat and forget about your sunburn (your general smashes, crushes, etc.) C) food that requires no utensils to eat (bonus points for ICE CREAM) and, finally, D) fun, knowledgable bartenders who elevate your sunny vibes. Joyce Thaxton, the bar's General Manager, definitely adds the final piece to this boozy puzzle. As a 10+ year veteran of the service industry, this feisty bar maven can whip up tasty cocktails for huge crowds of patrons without breaking a sweat. We recently checked in with Joyce to try to get her to spill her secrets. Read on to learn her "Golden Rule" for patrons, her advice to bar newbies, and the recipe for the dangerously drinkable Virginia Beach Smash!


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I’m Joyce Thaxton, the General Manager and Head Bartender (but also known as “Mom”) here at Ocean 27 on the Virginia Beach boardwalk. I’ve been tending the bar for well over 10 years. I love it. I live for the high volume, getting weeded, and pumping out the drinks while throwing bangers.

What first got you behind the bar?

I started at 18 as a cocktail waitress at the ever-so-awesome Peabody's nightclub. It’s a staple at the beach, for sure - the longest running “nightclub” in the area. I fell in love with the energy, the nightlife, and the industry. My insatiable love for money and extreme work ethic led me up the totem pole from waitress to the GM of one of the busiest bars in Virginia, period. I am humbled, yet extremely aware that hard work is everything.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

No one knows it all. No one. That includes myself. I’ve trained over 30 bartenders in my years, and you need to be a sponge. Observe, soak it in, and go for it! You need to be accepting of change, new information, and the fact that one drink can be made 789 different ways! Bartending is high energy and fun. If you aren’t a people person, multitasker, or all-around awesome, this is probably not gonna work out for you.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

The Agave Smash created by one of my liquor reps, actually! It’s made with blanco tequila, agave nectar, and fresh mint. You bruise it to all hell and serve it over crushed ice. The combination of tequila, the sweet hint of the nectar, the pulverized mint leaves, and the froth in the glass from the perfect beating is heaven in your mouth.

Favorite drink that you make?

Being a “tourist attraction” on the beach, my favorite drink to pour on the daily is a great Rum Runner. The look on the guest's face when you four-bottle hold and pour a strong, fruity, and delicious (not to mention eye pleasing) cocktail - it's what their vacation dreams are made of!

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Jameson. I’m a solid Jameson girl. We bartenders know it’s not the best, but it’s home. It’s comforting.

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Fresh pineapple juice. It literally goes with any spirit and makes everything refreshing!

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What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

It’s literally a vacation with a paycheck. Don’t get me wrong - it’s high volume, and managing a staff of over 100 people, I will admit that sometimes I’m a walking, talking stress ball of energy. I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

What makes your bar unique?

Giant games throughout the park, live music daily, an awesome and fun staff, and the ocean view from sunrise to sunset isn’t so bad either.

 

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I used to be the life of the party, known in every bar as the girl dancing on the tables. That was years ago. I’m now the low-key one. I don’t want to go anywhere I can’t hear myself think and enjoy a few shots and drinks. I stick to small "locals"  bars, and after a long week, I just want to go to Chicho's on 29th Street and have my Jameson and a slice of pepperoni pizza. Shout out to Matt Potter and his awesome staff!

 

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

I’ve done the whole fine dining scene, the high-volume nightclubs, and the vacation beach bar. I love seeing the spotlight on the mixology aspect. The precision, the building of the cocktail, the diversity of what you can infuse into a drink. The “crafting” of the cocktail. It’s awesome to see the recognition that a drink is not just a drink!

 

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Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

As a high volume bartender, this is to the guests: please know what it is that you want to drink. We are not mind readers, the liquor comes before the mixer, and, for the love of everything that is holy, just start a tab!

 

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A chilled shot of Cold Brew Coffee after a long day. The fact that it has caffeine is just a bonus!


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Virginia Beach Smash

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Black Label

  • squeeze half a lemon

  • top with lemon-lime soda

  • grenadine float

 

Preparation:

Build in glass over crushed ice.

 

All photos by Joey Wharton.

Recipe courtesy of Joyce Thaxton of Ocean 27.

 

Want more Behind the Bar action?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Click below to learn more about Belle Isle!

Behind the Bar: Ginny Lawhorn // Sticky Rice

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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As a sushi restaurant with an innovative, 100% vegan bar program in a potentially haunted historical building in Baltimore, Sticky Rice Baltimore is definitely one-of-a-kind. So too is Ginny Lawhorn, the restaurant's managing partner and bar wizard. With nearly two decades of service industry experience, a serious amount of knowledge, Ginny knows a thing or two about the bar business. We recently chatted with Ginny about what it takes to run a bar, being a part of Baltimore's bar scene, and how to cure many of life's ailments with whiskey and water. She also shared with us her recipe for the tasty, versatile, and fantastically-named Just Like Honey.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Ginny Lawhorn, Managing Partner of Sticky Rice Baltimore and Bar Lead at Landmark Theatre, Harbor East. I have been bartending for 16 years.  I have run the bar program with Landmark Harbor East for 10 years and have managed the Front of House and beverage program at Sticky Rice Baltimore for six years.

What first got you behind the bar?

Oh, gosh…a need to pay my rent while I was in school got me into hospitality.  That and being too antsy and too nocturnal for offices. What got me behind a bar was the fastest “YES!” in the west when a bartender no-showed for a shift, and I swore I could cover the service bar.  I dug my heals in and stayed put from there.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

Anything Amie Ward at R. Bar or Chelsea Gregoire at Hotel Revival.  The company can not be beat! Put your faith in the brilliance, skills, and knowledge of these badass babes!

 

Favorite drink that you make?

A Last Word.  I am very partial to ratio cocktails and am head over heals for “perfect” cocktails.  Last Words are equal measure classic cocktail, timeless chic, international flair, and good taste.  The scent of a well made Last Word also lingers just long enough to brighten the day of those around it!  Try subbing Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit for the gin in a Last Word for an extra zippy citrus-forward gem!

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Orangina!  I love citrus. I think Orangina is a gift from the heavens.  My mom used to say the only thing I took away from living in California when I was little is an obsession with Orangina and artichokes.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Water, sparkling and flat.  I think water is the most underutilized component of cocktail programs.  I often joke that whiskey in water is the cure to most ailments. Sore throat?  Whiskey in hot water. Upset stomach? Whiskey in sparkling water. Heartbreak? Whiskey on the rocks.  

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

My very favorite part of working in hospitality is building your “Bar Family.”  The time you spend locked behind a bar, or on the floor of a restaurant, or in a kitchen provides very unique environments for relationship building.  Sharing small spaces, working long shifts and late nights day after day creates bonds you don’t find in every field. The respect for personhood and sense of community in our industry is our pillar of strength and strongest intrinsic value.  I am grateful for the opportunity to help create and cultivate a work home for my teams.

 

What makes your bar unique?

Landmark is unique in the constantly changing line up of guests based on film release.  Seven movie screens with seven titles offers seven audiences. It is a super fun setting for a movie geek. 10 years later I am still super excited to talk movie shop with guests every new release Friday.

Sticky Rice Baltimore is incredibly unique in environment. In 1904, a mahogany wood bar was commissioned in Germany destined for a home in America.  After being meticulously crafted and spending several months at sea this bar arrived in the port of Baltimore.  With might and some struggle it was installed by hand at 1634 Aliceanna Street.  This bar found its home at Dix Hotel, an Irish bar on the first floor topped with two floors of boarding rooms above.  Over the next century this bar would continually operate, passing through a few hands and concepts.  

In 2010, Sticky Rice Baltimore found a home here.  Embracing the truest roots of Baltimore's hospitality while mixing in fusion offerings, we have been fortunate to belly up to this bar for the last eight years.  I don’t take for granted our incredible fortune to be able to see this bar through this generation and iteration of hospitality.

The building is haunted AF too. 


Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I am a sucker for a nice patio and a good view!  Little Havana is my favorite in Baltimore. Parc is my must in Philly.  Momofuku CCDC is my favorite guilty pleasure in DC.

 

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

Baltimore has an incredibly vibrant cocktail culture that is very supportive and inclusive.  It is a city that takes pride in the beer and spirits made here. Union Craft Brewing is leading by incredible example in support and inclusion with the creation of the Union Craft Collective. This new space will house Union Brewing, Baltimore Whiskey Company, Vent Coffee and a variety of other local purveyors.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

For both guests and bartenders, wherever possible: “Be kind to everyone you meet, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.  I don’t say it to sound cliché or “golden rule” shame anyone. Just as a simple reminder that you don’t know what happened that has brought this person in front of you.  I went to work the day my best friend passed away from breast cancer because I didn’t know where else to go or what else to do. I have had guests come in immediately following being laid off because seeing a movie was what made sense at that time.  "Please" and "Thank You" always help! Lead with kindness whenever you are able.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A Belle Isle Honey Habanero Bloody Mary outside of Sticky Rice Baltimore!


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Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Grapefruit

  • 2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

  • One drop organic honey

Preparation:

One cocktail, Two ways

1. Coupe - In a mixing tin over ice combine all ingredients.  Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish will honeycomb inside of a grapefruit peel.

2. Highball - In a mixing tin over ice combine all ingredients.  Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.  Top with sparkling water. Garnish with honeycomb inside of a grapefruit peel.

 

Want to go behind more bars?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Behind the Bar: Brendan Ambrose // Firefly

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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When you're in the bar business for nearly three decades, you naturally learn a thing or two. One wouldn't assume those things would include urban gardening. For Brendan Ambrose, Lead Bartender at Firefly at the Kimpton Hotel Madera in Washington, D.C., mastering the craft of bartending means more than mixing spirits. He grows all the herbs, flowers, and vegetables used in Firefly's cocktails (in the form of everything from garnishes to bitters) on the building's roof. How's that for #supportlocal? We recently spoke with Brendan about his bartending career, his favorite drinks, and bringing on the "rooftop-to-glass" revolution. Plus, he shared the recipe for his delicious and ambitious Belle Isle cocktail, Trench Town Melody


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Brendan Ambrose, Lead Bartender at Firefly in Washington, D.C. I’ve been bartending for 27 years, and the past three years have been behind the bar at Firefly.

What first got you behind the bar?

I got a job waiting tables at an Irish bar. It was my first year of college, and I was living with my parents. My father asked me what I was going to do with my life, and I told him I was going to drop out of college and be a bartender. I pursued a career in hospitality and have been going strong for almost 30 years.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

1) Stay humble, not arrogant.

2) Control your bar; don’t let your bar control you.  

3) Continue to be a sponge and keep learning everything you can, because what’s trending today will be trending again in the future.

 

Favorite drink made by someone else?

My fiancée is also a bartender. Her cocktails are amazing, but there is nothing like coming home after a long shift and being welcomed with two pours of neat Filibuster bourbon.

 

Favorite drink that you make?

I have a drink on Firefly’s menu called “Vine and Fig Tree.”  It’s Woodford Reserve that has been slow-smoked in a smoker, house-made Malbec syrup, and a black walnut and fig cordial. I smoke the glass and garnish with blood orange zest and a flaming rosemary sprig.

 

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Water out of a garden hose.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Fresh ginger. From dehydrated garnishes to syrups, it can be used in so many different ways. When a cocktail build is missing that one key factor, ginger will very often bring it all together without bullying the other flavors.

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

I love having the freedom to shape my own program, collaborate with chefs and bartenders, and share my craft.  Firefly is committed to sustainability, supporting local farmers, and upcycling. I apply these same standards to the bar program. For example, I have a garden on the roof that has evolved from four boxes to 26 raised boxes. These 5 x 5 ft. boxes are made with pallets from restaurant deliveries. The composted soil comes from guests’ food scraps. In the summer, I grow 40% of the vegetables for the kitchen and 100% of the herbs, vegetables, and flower garnishes for the cocktail menu. I like to joke with my guests and say, “forget farm-to-table, I’m growing your cocktail rooftop-to-glass!”

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Bar Rouge on 16th Street in Washington, D.C. Great bar staff and bourbon selection.

 

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

Today’s cocktail culture is very different compared to when I first started bartending. The days of “when in doubt, make it red” are over! Guests are home-bartending, studying the craft, and doing their homework. You have to know what you are talking about or risk being called out. I have seen this happen on several occasions to younger bartenders.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

I always treat people the way I would want to be treated. That said, respect is important and a two-way street.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Warm and straight from the bottle.


 

Trench Town Melody

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Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Belle Isle Honey-Habanero
  • 2 oz. garden lavender-bergamot cordial*  
  • 1 ½ oz. garden Thai basil-infused lime juice**
  • ½ egg white
  • Garden chamomile
  • Garden rosemary and flower garnishes

Directions:

Combine Belle Isle Honey Habanero, lavender-bergamot cordial, and Thai basil-infused lime juice in a bar tin. Add egg white and dry shake for 45-60 seconds. Add ice and shake again for another 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube and sprinkle dehydrated chamomile on top. Torch using Green Chartreuse spray and butane torch. Garnish with garden fresh rosemary sprigs and edible flowers.

**Thai Basil-infused lime juice

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt. freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • 1 qt. freshly cut Thai basil chopped
  • ½ qt. sugar
  • ½ qt. water

 

Directions:

In a large pot, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and add fresh lime or lemon juice and chopped Thai basil. Stir for 10 minutes to infuse all ingredients. Triple strain and let cool. Bottle, label, and date.

*Lavender-Bergamot cordial

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt. sugar
  • 1 qt. water
  •  6 bergamot oranges, freshly squeezed and triple strained to remove pulp
  •  ½ lb. freshly cut lavender
  • ½ qt. vodka of your choice

 Directions:

In a large pot, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and add fresh lavender and bergamot juice.  Stir for 10 minutes to infuse all ingredients. Triple strain and let cool.  Add the vodka, label, and date.

 

Recipe by Brendan Ambrose.

Photos by Joey Wharton.

 

Want more cocktail ideas?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to learn more about us?

Behind the Bar: Melanie Frank // Oak Steakhouse

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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Located in an old bank building in the heart of Charleston, Oak Steakhouse is as timeless as historic Broad Street itself. Bringing a classic New York steakhouse vibe to the southern city, it's no surprise that beef is the real star here. With the help of Bar Manager Melanie Frank, the cocktail menu holds court with the tartare and prime rib. We recently chatted with Melanie about Charleston's bustling dining scene, her bartending theories, and her favorite places to drink. She also shared with us her recipe for the dangerously delicious Catalina 'Shine Mixer

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Melanie Frank, Bar Manager at Oak Steakhouse in Charleston. I’ve been at Oak for seven years and have been bartending for about 11 years overall.

What first got you behind the bar?

When I was in college, I needed a summer job. I went out looking and got my first bartending job at a sports bar.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Make it fun. You have to remember you’re basically on stage every night, so if you can have fun while working then it’s not really work.

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Favorite drink made by someone else?

I’m the weird bartender that doesn’t really like most liquors and spirits. I’m a red wine or champagne girl all the way.

Favorite drink that you make?

I like making anything I can make look pretty. Aesthetics go along way. If the customer thinks it looks pretty, it’s already going to taste better because their eyes have seen it first.

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Tequila. I love good tequila. Sipping or shooting or in a cocktail, you can enjoy it and not have a bad sugar headache the next day.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

I’m not sure if ice is a credible answer here (editor's note: it is!), but no one wants a hot drink unless it’s a hot toddy. If I can’t use that, then I would choose citrus because it can drastically change any drink or spirit.

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

The customers and regulars. I never have a dull night. We have a big local following, and a lot of them have become like family. I really enjoy getting to know people and being part of their lives. I’d say I know 50% or more of my bar most nights. We always joke that’s it’s a "Cheers" bar, but we’re not far from it. I even have some guests that have let me stay at their vacation homes or buy me Christmas gifts. It really is more like an extended family rather than work.

 

What makes your bar unique?

Our building used to be a bank, and it’s about 200 years old. We have a lot of original flooring and structure to it, including the bank vault. It just makes for a very comfortable and intimate place that people love coming to because they feel welcomed just like at home.

 

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

After work? Somewhere quiet where I can get a nice glass of wine. If I’m not working, I really enjoy rooftop bars and outdoor patios.

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What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

I think Charleston is booming in the food and beverage industry. Years ago, you were hard pressed to find a good bartending job. Now the demand is so high you can go almost anywhere and get hired. I think we have amazing restaurants and bars with some really talented bartenders. You would be hard pressed to go anywhere in the city without a craft cocktail list.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Always smile and be pleasant. There is a lot more to bartending than just making drinks. People are out because they want to have a good time or experience, and you’re there to make that happen. People will forget about the food or the drink you made, but they don’t forget how you made them feel. It could be their one night out a year, so if I can make their night more memorable then I’ve done my job.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

I like the regular moonshine with just a little pickle juice or brine. I don’t like olives, and dirty martinis look so good. So I pickle mine, and it’s delicious.

 


Catalina Shine Mixer

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 1 oz. ginger molasses

  • ½ oz. lemon juice

  • few drops of ginger bitters

  • Top with champagne

  • Garnish: lemon cranberry habanero lollipop (created by Dress the Drink)

Preparation:

Combine the first three ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Pour champagne on top of mixture in the martini glass and then add a a few drops of ginger bitters. Garnish with the lollipop.

 

Recipe by Melanie Frank. 

All photos by Kate Magee.

Still Thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to get to know us better?

Behind the Bar: Vinnie Dugan // Seven Lamps

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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In the stylish Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead, it can be difficult for a restaurant to stand out from the pack. Seven Lamps manages to do just that, with outstanding food, a killer atmosphere, and a cocktail menu to match.  We chatted with Vinnie Dugan, the restaurant's Beverage Director, about his inadvertent start in the industry, his hospitality widsom, and cereal-inspired cocktails (don't knock it 'til you try it). He'll also share the recipe for his spicy Honey Habanero cocktail - The Irrational


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

My name is Vinnie Dugan, and I’m the Beverage Director at Seven Lamps in Buckhead. I’ve been bartending for 13 years now, with the last two of them at Seven Lamps.

What first got you behind the bar?

I got pulled into the restaurant industry by my brother when I was 18. He always talked about how great the money was and how high-paced it was. Once I started in the industry, I kind of fell into bartending by accident. I was working at the Woodruff Arts Center doing event bartending, and the bartender quit at the restaurant (Twelve Eighty) so they asked me to come work.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

I would suggest finding someone to study under and learn everything you can from them.  Try not to forget who you are making drinks for, and don’t be scared of making something that tastes bad. I still make things that I don’t like all the time.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

I don’t have a specific drink so much as a specific person.  Brent Hesse from Deep End is someone who I respect, and I think we have similar tastes. I always love tasting his stuff and seeing what he is doing.

Favorite drink that you make?

I’m a huge garbage person, so I love cocktails that remind me of my childhood and growing up poor in the south.  We currently have a cocktail made with Cocoa Puffs, milk, bourbon, cognac and chicory liquor called the Breakfast of Champions.  I love the way it tastes, and it immediately transports me to my childhood. It’s clever and light-hearted. I try not to take myself too seriously, and I like to think my cocktails reflect that attitude.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Diet Mountain Dew is the single greatest soda ever made. I love the stuff.

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If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Sugar would probably be the one ingredient that I’d use for the rest of my life.  Sugar is such a vital part of what I do behind the bar. There’s so many different types, so many different uses, so many different flavors.  Sugar is a flavor enhancer in that when used correctly, it enhances the flavor of the other ingredients in the cocktail.

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

I really am blessed that I work where I do.  I have the creative freedom to pursue whatever I see fit for our beverage program.  I work under chefs Conor O’Reilly and Drew Van Leuvan, two of the most talented and creative minds in the city who are always willing to help me with ideas and techniques.  I have a truly amazing group of guests who come in just to see what I’m up to with new drinks and ideas. To pinpoint one thing that is my favorite about where I work would really be impossible.

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Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Deep End in Atlanta is probably my favorite spot. The tacos are great and he always has cool drinks on the menu.

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

Atlanta’s cocktail culture has come so far in the past five years, and so many places have great cocktail programs.  Tons of new bars are popping up all over the place with really great ideas and cocktails.

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

My golden rule for bar etiquette is don’t be an asshole - and that rule applies to bartenders and guests.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

My favorite way to drink Belle Isle is in a slushie - they work so well in our machine.


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**Spicy Syrup

Take two quarts of simple syrup and place in a saucepan over low heat, gently simmer 6 habanero peppers and 4 serrano peppers until wilted.  Strain the mixture and add 5 grams of habanero powder.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. spicy syrup **
  • 1 mint sprig torn
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Preparation:

Shake and double strain into a coupe and garnish with a slapped mint leaf.

Recipe by Vinnie Dugan.

All photos by Kate Magee


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Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

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